[FOM] alleged quote from Hilbert
Les Schaffer
schaffer at optonline.net
Thu Apr 7 19:03:33 EDT 2005
Martin Davis wrote:
>In Rebecca Goldstein's recent "Incompleteness" she quotes Hilbert as follows:
>
>Mathematics is a game played according to certain simple rules with
>meaningless marks on paper.
>
>I would appreciate any information about this quotation
>
try a google search. there is the usual infinite number of web sites
alleging Hilbert used this phrase. Then there is G. Chaitin and M.
O'Donnell who argue against the notion that Hilbert was so simple-minded
about formalism. See, for example, O'Donnell's paper here:
http://arxiv.org/PS_cache/cs/pdf/9911/9911010.pdf
see also
In 1919-20, Hilbert gave a series of popular lectures in Gottingen
under the general title of "Nature and Mathematical Knowledge." In
these lectures Hilbert sharply criticized accepted views of
mathematics and physics. He explicitly discarded the view that
mathematics can be reduced to a formal game played with meaningless
symbols according to rules established in advance, while stressing
the role of intuition and experience as a source of mathematics.
http://www.math.rutgers.edu/~zeilberg/mamarim/akherim/corry.txt
and pp 66-67 here:
http://duke.usask.ca/~hoffmans/dis/chpt2.PDF
and page 12 here:
http://www.andrew.cmu.edu/user/avigad/Papers/PhilMath.pdf
However, given the number of google hitst that attribute the quote to
Hilbert, perhaps Goldstein, like myself, reads too much Web.
Now an N J Rose has the same quote from Hilbert here:
http://www4.ncsu.edu/~njrose/Special/Images/AHistory.pdf ... but NO
source for the quote. i fear Rose may read a little too much web as well???
les schaffer
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